TWICE: What’s your outlook for Holiday 2014? Will consumers loosen their purse strings for Christmas?
Dan Pidgeon, Starpower: We had a big miss last year due to weather, the sluggish recovery, healthcare concerns and the shorter selling season. People held back and abandoned shopping because there were concerns, and too many reasons not to buy.
But we won’t have most of those challenges this time. Now that we’ve shifted away from the unknowns and are getting some innovative products out, I think it will be an extremely good holiday season. You can’t control the weather, and we’re not growing at the levels we had hoped to so far, but the indicators are very positive and we’re pretty bullish on Q4. The consumer is comfortable with where they are and has a willingness to spend. There’s enough pent-up demand, and based on housing starts and home sales, we can all look forward to the fall. We’re already seeing an uptick from the housing industry.
Mike Abt, Abt Electronics: It feels better; the economy is better and our business is better than last year. TV is not as bad as it’s been, and appliances are working really well for us.
Actually the economy has been fine for our customer, who falls within the luxury mass market. We’re hopeful it will be a good season.
Rick Souder, Crutchfield: The underlying trends have been the same for quite some time: The categories that are seeing strength, like audio, will continue to grow, and those that aren’t, like digital imaging, which is facing structural issues, will continue to weaken. It’s just a matter of degree.
Tom Hickman, Nationwide: For our guys we expect a very good fourth quarter, not because we are going to do anything radically different than we normally do, but due to the comp sales from last year [and the first quarter].
A lot of what happened at retail in the first quarter in CE was weather related, but at least part of it for our members was availability of product. We hope vendors won’t make the same mistake this year. Hopefully they will be more flush with inventory so we won’t be missing turns.
Dave Workman, ProSource: Realistically, it’s a tough time to do significant growth. Topline growth from 2009 [to the 2013 holiday season] was from tablets and smartphones, which has plateaued a bit this year. For the entire industry it may be a tread-water year with total growth being small. But at the same time certain subcategories will do well.